Are you having to dismiss employees, change the responsibilities of your employees, reduce wages for a period of time, allow your employees to work on sensitive data from home or need to manage them remotely so there are no breaches of confidentiality?
We are actively working with clients to respond to the impacts the pandemic is having on businesses, their workplaces and employees. There is no one size fits all solution, so what you need to implement in your business will be specific to your business conditions, your industry, financial positioning, industrial environment and the industrial instruments you have in place.
Businesses also need to think ahead. Businesses will not want to spend time post this crisis dealing with disputes and employment related claims and litigation including unfair dismissals, general protections claims, orders to repay of wages if standing down without pay incorrectly, prosecution and penalties if the wrong decisions are made now.
We provide direct access to our experienced Employment Team to help you to:
- understand what options are available within the complex Modern Award and Fair Work framework and your industrial instruments;
- identify the right response measures and cost minimisation strategies;
- factor in the Government support becoming available; keep you up to date on the urgent changes to Modern Awards and relevant legislation;
- know the trigger points and pros and cons for restructures and redundancies;
- prepare for worst case scenario – stand downs within the strict limitations of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth); and
- prepare a robust path and customised documents, including employee communications and templates, letters to your employees etc, specific to your business.
Give Justine a call on (07) 3648 9900
Leasing / Renting
Do you need to negotiate rental concessions or an early termination of a lease?
We are working closely with clients to respond to the pandemic on their other major overheads, such as rent or licensing fees. There is a common thread of advice here and most people are arranging for some form of concession, but it still needs to be considered by a professional and properly documented to be adequate and enforceable.
Most tenants and landlords are trying to work together. Not everyone is playing ball. Where a landlord is not acting reasonably regarding a rent concession, a tenant must consider certain provisions of the lease and principles of law that will give them leverage with their negotiation.
Some examples include:
- Force majeure – does the definition refer to viruses, pandemics and/or acts of government? What right does the tenant have if there is a force majeure event?
- Damage and Destruction clauses – in some cases these clauses also extends to acts of god, acts of government or other disabling causes.
- Quiet enjoyment – a tenant is entitled to occupy its premises without the landlord’s interference or interruption. If the tenant operates a business that is subject to a government forced closure and the landlord restricts the tenant’s access to the premises as a result, the tenant may be able to claim the landlord has breached this provision.
- Frustration – a principle of law, involving an event occurring post contract due to no fault of either party that prevents the performance of the contract. It may be used by a tenant either as a way to terminate the lease, or preferable, a leverage for negotiation.
Give Pete a call on (07) 3648 9900
Do you have a franchise agreement in place and want to negotiate new terms as a way to help you get through the downturn in business?
Franchisees and franchisors also need to come to the table together, particularly where the franchisor charges the franchisee a ‘flat’ fee rather than a fee based on a percentage of turnover. Similar to leases, where a franchisor is not acting reasonably on fee concessions, a franchisee must consider certain provisions of the franchise agreement and principles of law that will give them leverage with their negotiation.
Some examples include:
- The obligation of the franchisor to act in good faith;
- The principle of unconscionable conduct;
- Force majeure.\
In many cases, a franchisee is faced with having to negotiate both with their landlord and their franchisor. Each lease and franchise agreement needs to be considered on a case by case basis.
Give Peter a call on 07 3648 9900
Commercial / Contracts
Do you need to re-negotiate or terminate contracts? Or maybe you are considering insolvency, or thinking about putting in personal capital to keep the doors open on your business?
We are liaising with a range of clients in diverse industries to review their commercial obligations in light of the pandemic.
There have been a number of situations where we have been able to assist clients re-negotiate or terminate contracts where it has become unfairly burdensome or impossible for parties to comply with their obligations.
We are also working with a number of clients in relation to the changes to insolvency laws and debt recovery. There are some major changes and time delays – but we are worried that some clients are simply going to avoid the real issues they need to face now. Waiting for 6 months will only amplify the problem.
Are you going to personally lend money to your business to keep it open and operating? You should be taking steps now to secure that lending in case things go bad in the future.
Many clients that put it off, are now asking us to take a deeper dive into their structures and asset protection. There are measures we can take now to protect your valuable hard earned assets. The longer the wait, the harder it is.
If you are worried about the viability of your business, we can also discuss how a restructure of your business might save you. We can also hold your hand and protect your assets if insolvency is the only path.
Give Matthew a call on (07) 3648 9900
We all need to think ahead and make sure that what you do now does not adversely impact your ability to quickly bounce back once the crisis clears.
**Don’t miss our COVID-19 Revival Packages as we move towards the end of the crisis.
Have a Question About COVID-19? Ask a Lawyer
Practice Area Expert:
Matthew is the founder of Rouse Lawyers. He leads the firm's Corporate & Commercial team. Before he started Rouse Lawyers, Matthew developed his expertise as a commercial lawyer with some of Australia's largest law firms. He focuses on mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property and franchising.
Matthew is trusted by the firm’s clients to deliver astute and practical legal advice to make sure Rouse Lawyers team delivers on its promise to offer top-tier counsel on time with the clients’ interests and value in mind.
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